Saturday, July 21, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth

Last night we watched Pan's Labyrinth. I was carried away by how good it is. I had been oblivious that it was set in the Spanish Civil War. I personally have not given that event much thought in, say, 30 or so years, but when I was last in Spain, Generalissimo Francisco Franco was still alive. I would not say that at that time (1973) he was very much alive; in fact he was patently senile (in the general sense of the word) and strikingly superannuated. However, his influence was still as pervasive as it had been when I lived in Spain, 10 years before that.

I wonder how many Americans (at least among non-Hemingway readers) are aware that there ever was a protracted, bitter, and bloody civil war in Spain that determined its politics, economy, culture and relationships to the rest of the world for 40 more years. It's likewise interesting to me that some 70 years after, a talented and skilled film maker, Guillermo del Toro, should settle upon it as a setting for his vivid, fantastical story.

The movie is full of graphic violence, of the non-gratuitous kind, and rich with metaphors and allegories that merit repeat viewing.

It was also a great pleasure to hear Castilian spoken again. That was the first Spanish I learned; I have long since become comfortable with Puerto Rican Spanish, easily as different from Castilian as any breed of regional American English is from same of the Queen's.

What a refreshing pleasure to see a stimulating, compelling, and meaningful movie.

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